Endless Night: An avalanche of emotions
by Alfonso Rivera
- BERLIN 2015: Isabel Coixet has opened the Berlinale with an ambitious, captivating and beautiful movie that takes place in freezing landscapes and in which Juliette Binoche and Rinko Kikuchi shine
Avalanches are all the rage in modern film. One of them triggers the destruction of a family in the wonderful Force Majeure [+see also:
interview: Ruben Östlund
film profile]. Another is rather symbolically in the foreground of the movie with which Catalan director Isabel Coixet has opened the 65th Berlin International Film Festival, a city that's also frozen during these winter days. Snowy landscapes – the journey to the North Pole – provide the backdrop for this epic odyssey by a woman – French actress Juliette Binoche – and where another, entirely contrasting one – played by Rinko Kikuchi – will come in search of her to change her life forever.
Endless Night [+see also:
interview: Isabel Coixet
film profile] is the most ambitious movie yet by the director of Elegy [+see also:
film profile]. Following her unsuccessful inroad into the fantasy genre, Another Me [+see also:
interview: Isabel Coixet
film profile] (read review), Coixet takes on her favourite themes, once again embracing intense heroines in order to offer us a high-voltage show of adventure, beauty and emotion. At times Endless Night brings to mind a film by Peter Weir, with its aerial shots of white landscapes and mountains. At others, any one of the characters could be rescued from one of Werner Herzog's mad adventures. But the distinguished Coixet clearly illustrates like blood sprinkled on the purest of ice: where those two determined, romantic and brave women are, their dreams will progressively fall apart the closer they get to them, opening themselves up to different realities.
To state that Binoche acts marvellously might seem obvious, but her pretty face transforms into her character, Josephine Peary, a high-society North American who, carrying a luggage load worthy of a queen, departs in search of her husband, who is committed to realising his dream: to be the first person to stake a flag in the northernmost point of the planet. It's the beginning of the 20th century, and Joss loves him so fiercely that she wants to share in his terrifying adventure. However, along the way, she will discover things about him – and about herself – that she never knew.
There's not much point in saying that Gabriel Byrne, who plays a hardened individualist explorer, is also an excellent actor. However, we can highlight the excellent acting by Rinko Kikuchi, who is once again working with Coixet following Map of the Sound of Tokyo [+see also:
film profile]: with a wealth of charm, spontaneity and chemistry with her French co-worker, the Japanese girl breathes life into an Eskimo who's also waiting for a man. Their initial showdown represents two worlds and two opposing ways of seeing life and of dealing with nature. And, united without expecting or wanting to be, they will fight courageously against that cruel and undesired darkness of the night.
Coixet takes us on her girls' physical and emotional journey without ever skimping on pain, desperation, tenderness or coolness. While in the scenes with more action her limited expertise in this type of work is evident, in the more intimate moments, Coixet's talent to deeply move us is on a par with My Life Without Me [+see also:
film profile]. That's why it comes as no surprise that her tenth fiction feature is opening an exclusive competition like the Berlin Festival, and she's the first Spanish director to do so.
Endless Night is a co-production between Spain, France and Bulgaria, with the collaboration of TVE, TV3 and Canal+, and the support of Eurimages and the MEDIA programme. It was filmed – in English, based on a screenplay by Miguel Barros – on location in Norway, and on sets in Bulgaria and Tenerife (where tax rebates are lower than on the peninsula). International sales will be managed by Elle Driver (read news).
(Translated from Spanish)
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